Tight housing market could cause buyers to take risks, waive rights

BBJ Staff

More homes hit the market in Whatcom County in April, but inventories remain far below what was available a year ago, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service says.

Listings grew by 5.4 percent to 904 homes in April, compared to 858 in March.

Homes on the market in April were below levels in April 2015, when 1,088 houses and condos were available. That’s a 16.91-percent decrease year over year.

It’s part of a trend that’s been going on for months: There just aren’t enough homes available for the number of active buyers in the area.

“The market is more intense than a year ago,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, Inc., in a statement. “We are still seeing 80 percent of the homes coming on the market sell within the first 30 days.”

There is 1.85 months of supply across the 23-county NW Multiple Listing Service region, a slight improvement from March when there was 1.79 months of supply. Months of supply is how many months it would take to sell the current inventory of homes given the current pace of home sales.

April is still down from a year ago when there was 2.36 months of supply.

Few homes were built during the recession, and now many people are unwilling to sell their homes because they worry they can’t find a new place to buy or rent. The lack of inventory — along with a shrinking supply of condos — has led to an increase in sales prices.

The median price in the county for a home was $295,000 in April, up from $275,00 last year, or a 7.27 percent increase.

“Low inventory and low interest rates are still putting upward pressure on prices, but hopefully last month’s bump in new listings is the start of a longer-term trend and will lead us towards a more balanced market,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, in the news release.

The seller’s market is likely to continue for some time due to the lack of new home construction and huge pent-up demand, said Ken Anderson, president/owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty and a former Northwest MLS director.

One thing that real estate agents are cautioning against is anxious buyers taking ill-advised risks.

Buyers who are showing signs of fatigue are waiving many of their rights with regard to inspections, title reviews, neighborhood reviews and financing options, said Diedre Haines, Coldwell Banker Bain’s principal managing broker for south Snohomish County, in the release.

“In my opinion, this is risky behavior for both buyers and sellers,” Haines said. “Buyers need to perform their due diligence investigations, and sellers should be cautioned about the wisdom, or lack thereof, in thinking these waivers strengthen the offer, are good for them, or that they create a ‘no hassle’ quick-close transaction.”

Buyers need to be cautious about making these concessions, said John Deely, NW Multiple Listing Service vice chairman.

“Buyers are forgoing the protective investigations of properties and waiving the escape-type contingencies to strengthen their offers,” Deely said in the statement. “Waiving financing is of particular risk when combined with bidding wars as we have seen an increase in low appraisals.”

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